Dec. 30, 1997
Ingelsby Steps Right in as Irish Point Guard
By Bernadette Cafarelli
Although just a freshman, point guard Martin Ingelsby has quietly, yet confidently assumed his role on this year's Irish team. Just nine games into his rookie campaign, many would point towards the play of Ingelsby as a reason why Notre Dame is off to a 7-2 start, its best during head coach John MacLeod's seven-year tenure.
Ingelsby has started all nine contests and is averaging 31.6 minutes of playing time per game, second only to senior All-American Pat Garrity. He leads the team with 63 assists to rank 14th nationally in that category with a 7.0 average. Ingelsby's 8.3 points per game average is fourth best on the team, while his 46.7 percent accuracy (21-45) from three-point range tops the Irish in that category as well. While these numbers are impressive for any freshman, perhaps the statistics that catch the eye of opposing coaches in a scouting report most are that Ingelsby commits just one turnover for every three assists he dishes out and is averaging a turnover every 13.5 minutes he is on the floor. The play of the 5-11 Philadelphia, Pa. product and the 1997 Pennsylvania High School Player of the Year, has earned the praise of MacLeod, his teammates and opposing coaches.
"I like what Martin does for this team," says MacLeod. "He doesn't get rattled. He shows remarkable poise under pressure."
Adds Garrity, "I think he's playing outstanding. He's come in and played the toughest position that you can play in college basketball. Martin has such good temperament. After he makes a great play, his face is the just the same after he makes a mistake. He just has the perfect temperament for the job."
After Notre Dame's 72-53 victory over The Citadel in the season opener in which Ingelsby scored 11 points and dished out four assists, Bulldogs' head coach Pat Dennis was quick to point to the impact he would have on this year's Irish team.
"Notre Dame will be a good basketball team by the time the BIG EAST season rolls around and Ingelsby keeps improving," Dennis said following the game. "A lot will depend on how good Ingelsby is, and I think he's pretty good."
Like all natural point guards, Ingelsby accepts the pressure and responsibility of being the Irish floor general.
"A point guard has to be a leader," he says," and I think I add leadership to this team. "My job is to get the ball into the hands of the open man. I'm supposed to know what to do."
Ingelsby's father Tom, who served as his high school coach at Archbishop Carroll, always emphasized to his son the importance of being a leader on the floor.
"During my final two years in high school, my father always stressed that it was my job to tell everyone what to do on the court," says Ingelsby. "That's my job, to know where everyone else is on the floor, to direct them on the court and to get them the ball."
The all-time leading scorer at Archbishop Carroll, Ingelsby finished his career with 1,432 points as his team compiled and 80-12 record in his three years of varsity competition, including back-to-back 28-win campaigns in is final two seasons. As a senior, he averaged 19.7 points, 5.0 assists and 3.0 steals. In his sophomore season, he led his squad to the Philadelphia Catholic League championship.
While there were many personal and team achievements for Ingelsby during his high school career, he was not rated among the top 100 players nationally and there were some that doubted his ability to play at this level and in the BIG EAST.
But as quickly as he can nail a three-pointer or find Garrity open in the paint, Ingelsby has shown that he can indeed play at this level and is certainly one of the BIG EAST's top rookies this season.
"A lot of people thought I couldn't play at this level, but I knew I could," says Ingelsby. "The biggest thrill for me so far is being able to contribute and knowing that I do belong."
One of those not questioning or second guessing Ingelsby's ability to play at this level is Notre Dame's longtime radio play-by-play announcer of 29 years, Jack Lorri.
"It's remarkable the rating guys could find 100 better high school seniors than Martin," says Lorri . "I guess heart and intelligence are not on their list of considerations. Martin has a chance to be as good as any point guard they have had since I've been around here. That includes John Paxson and David Rivers, which is pretty good company. They were great people as well as great players."
His father was greatly impressed with MacLeod and his coaching staff and always wanted his son to attend Notre Dame. The oldest of five children, Martin fell in love with Notre Dame on an unofficial visit to the school in the summer following his junior year.
"I came out here on my unofficial visit when there was no one around and summer school classes weren't even in session," he says. "Notre Dame was always a place that intrigued me; it's such a great place, especially academically. I remember when I got my first letter from the school; it was the one that stuck out."
Shortly after his visit, Ingelsby made his verbal commitment to attend Notre Dame , not only because of the tradition of the school both athletically and academically, but because of MacLeod himself.
"Coach MacLeod is not just a great coach, but he is a great person," says Ingelsby. "He's a classy individual who encourages each one of us every day in practice."
Although just nine games into his career, Ingelsby has a very positive feeling about this year's team and the important role he has on the squad. He has recorded 10-plus assists in three games and posted his first double-double against Florida International when he scored a personal best 16 points and dished off 11 assists.
But perhaps the highlight of his young career came in the fifth game of the season at Indiana. In that contest, Ingelsby caught the attention of Indiana coach Bobby Knight when he dished off 12 assists, the most ever by an opposing player at Assembly Hall against a Knight-coached team. Although there was an appreciation for his accomplishment, he was quick to point out that despite his efforts, the Irish came up short against their longtime rival.
"Having 12 assists in one game, especially against a great team like Indiana was a thrill," says Ingelsby. "But I was still disappointed in the fact that we lost the game."
Not lost on his mind following the road loss to Indiana was the importance of the Irish picking up a road win at Pittsburgh in its first BIG EAST outing of the 1997-98 campaign. After the road loss at Marquette in the second game of the season, Ingelsby knew the significance the win over the Panthers would have for him and the entire squad.
"That win at Pittsburgh in our first BIG EAST game has given us a lot of confidence," Ingelsby says. "Against Pittsburgh, we knew we had to go there and win and to stay focused. We just had to execute our game plan."
Ingelsby has a great appreciation for the senior leadership of Garrity and Derek Manner and knows how hard juniors Phil Hickey and Antoni Wyche have worked to make themselves better players.
"I appreciate the entire team and how hard everyone is working," says Ingelsby . "Our goal this year is to make the NCAA tournament. If we're going to do make it, my job is to be a leader on the floor and to make the other players on the court better. I feel a part of our success and it's just great to be able to contribute in any way I can."
Words spoken like a true point guard.